Happy New Year! Cybils Award Finalists Announced

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First, before I take one more step in announcing the Cybils Award Finalists for the Easy Reader and Early / Short Illustrated Chapter Book categories, I’d like to thank my awesome panel for all their hard work …

Jeff Barger – NC Teacher Stuff

Katie Fitzgerald – Secrets & Sharing Soda / @sharingsoda

Mandy Goldfuss – A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Teri Lesesne – Professor Nana and LS5385 / @professornana

Colby Sharp – sharpread and Nerdy Book Club / @colbysharp and @nerdybookclub

Amanda Snow – A Patchwork of Books  / @ApatchworkofBks

Katherine Sokolowski – Read, Write, Reflect / @katsok

They read 85 books in the Easy Reader and Early / Short Illustrated Chapter groups and through it all were guided by their passions for emerging and developing readers. Not once did their hearts stray from finding the books that new readers would love not just once, but many times over … all the while developing their skills as bookworms to be.

So without further ado, I give you the Early / Short Illustrated Chapter and Easy Reader finalists! They are in reverse alphabetical order just to do something a little different!

Early Chapter Books

new early chapter seriesViolet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford (Atheneum)
Nominated by: Amy

Blurb by Amanda Snow
A Patchwork of Books

Violet Mackerel is a creative girl with an incredible imagination and a determination that proves inspirational. While at the weekly flea market where her mother sells her knit creations, Violet discovers a beautiful china bird being sold by another vendor. She does not have the money to purchase the bird herself and rather than asking her mother, Violet devises several elaborate plots for obtaining the treasure. Though not always realistic or feasible with her plans, Violet does not waver in her quest for the the small bird and is ultimately met with success, despite all of her plans going awry. 

Violet is a charming, funny, and unique main character who will inspire readers to think outside of the box and relish in the small things in life. Her positive outlook and the subtle touches of whimsy will leave the reader with a smile and the black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout add to the cozy feeling of the story. 

sonya hartnett chapter bookSadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett (Candlewick Press)
Nominated by: Katherine Sokolowski
Reviewed by: Katie Fitzgerald

blurb by Teri Lesesne, Goddess of YA

It is not altogether uncommon for a child to say, “I didn’t do it,” even when confronted with evidence to the contrary. In Sadie and Ratz, Hartnett darkens this familiar landscapes introducing readers to the REAL culprits of mischief. Sibling rivalry, childish pranks, and truthfulness are all explored in this chapter book.  

Young readers might see themselves in BOTH characters: loving the ability to get away with mischief and the ultimate justice in getting even with an older sibling.

Cece Bell chapter bookRabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell (Candlewick Press)
Nominated by: Danielle Smith
Reviewed by: Katherine Sokolowski

blurb by Katherine Sokolowski, Read, Write, Reflect

Rabbit and Robot have an exciting night ahead of them, a sleepover! Rabbit has the entire evening scheduled – from what they will eat, to the games they will play, to when they will go to bed. However, as Rabbit soon learns, even with the best planning, life sometimes goes awry. Reminiscent of the great friendship books such as Frog and Toad, Rabbit and Robot are two friends who readers will surely identify with. Through this unlikely pair we learn that sometimes the best things aren’t planned.

Cece Bell has created two characters that will remind children of their own friendships. Hopefully we will see more of Rabbit and Robot in the future.

Kate Messner illustrated chapter bookMarty McGuire Digs Worms! by Kate Messner (Scholastic)
Nominated by: Adam Shaffer (@MrShafferTMCE)
Reviewed by: Katie Fitzgerald

Blurb by Colby Sharp, sharpread and Nerdy Book Club

Marty McGuire is back and this adventure seeking young lady cements herself in, Marty McGuire Digs Worms, as a girl that isn’t afraid to think outside the box. After an environmentalist visits Marty’s school she is determined to win a special award for having the schools best project. Marty’s attempt at turning in the school’s garbage into fertilizer goes terribly wrong, and Marty must find a way to make things right. 

Readers will laugh as they turn the pages, wanting to know what’s next. This early chapter book is meant to be shared and read aloud. It’s a book that even when you know the ending you’ll want to go back to read again … just for the cafeteria scene.

Ivy and Bean seriesIvy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9) by Annie Barrows (Chronicle Books)
Nominated by: Melissa @ Book Nut
Reviewed by: Katie Fitzgerald

Blurb by Katie Fitzgerald, Secrets and Sharing Soda

Ivy and Bean are back – and this time they’re in charge! Finally old enough to spend time on their own in Monkey Park, and disappointed because they can’t attend Girl Power 4-Ever camp with Bean’s big sister, Nancy, these two spunky best friends found a camp of their own. Guided by rules like “You can only have as much fun as you are willing to get hurt” and “The counselor is always right” Ivy and Bean lead their campers in all kinds of interesting activities, from learning the Heimlich Maneuver to fighting in the Roman Army. 

This wonderful early chapter book perfectly captures the joy of childhood imagination and the fun of a child’s first taste of independence. Supporting characters are memorable and well-crafted, the story is funny and exciting, and Sophie Blackall’s illustrations are as full of personality as ever. This ninth book in the Ivy and Bean series is the best yet, and it will undoubtedly leave fans desperate for more Ivy and Bean stories.

Easy Readers

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva (Toon Books)
Nominated by: Lizjonesbooks
Reviewed by: Jennifer | Jeff | Katie Fitzgerald

blurb by Jeff Barger, NC Teacher Stuff

Mouse is not a happy traveler. He is on a ship traveling to Antarctica with his owner, a young boy, and all he can think about is going home. The waves make it hard to do anything. The cold means you have to wears extra layers of clothing. All Mouse can do is ask “Can we go home now?” Off the coast, Mouse’s friend sees several species of penguins. Traveling on a dinghy, the boy sees a whale as Mouse announces several different things that whales can do. An unexpected turn takes the duo to a submerged volcano where they can swim in thermal waters. On their way home, Mouse asks a surprising question that doesn’t involve going home.

Emerging readers will enjoy this tale of a mouse out of his element. There are many opportunities to make predictions and readers will gain a surprising amount of knowledge about Antarctica. A Trip to the Bottom of the World is a journey that emerging readers will want to take again and again.

Pinch and Dash seriesPinch and Dash Make Soup (Pinch & Dash) by Michael J. Daley (Charlesbridge)
Nominated by: The Cath in the Hat

blurb by Teri Lesesne, Goddess of YA

Pinch is hungry but he doesn’t feel like walking to the Chat and Chew nor does he feel much like making something to eat on his own. So he goes next door to Dash’s house. Dash is making soup. It seems a little watery to Pinch, so he suggests adding ingredients, most of which are back in his own refrigerator. Before long, a thick soup is bubbling away, almost ready for the two friends to share.  On small problem remains:  Pinch thinks the soup needs a little spice while Dash insists it is fine as it is. When the soup ends up with double spices, it is off to the Chat and Chew to eat.  

Young readers will appreciate the good natured arguing between Pinch and Dash, recognizing that compromise is often a key ingredient not just in soup but in friendship.

Kevin Henkes Easy ReaderPenny and Her Doll by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books)
Nominated by: Colby Sharp
Reviewed by: ProfessorNana

Blurb by Mandy Goldfuss, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

“I love her already,” declares Penny upon opening the surprise package from her Gram.  The doll inside is perfect and is quickly and easily welcomed into the family.  Finding just the right name for her, however, proves to be a bit more difficult.  With engaging storytelling and endearing illustrations, Kevin Henkes shows Penny’s careful and thoughtful search for the ideal name.  Young readers will relate to Penny’s dilemma, appreciate her perseverance, and just might predict that the perfect name for a perfect doll is right under Penny’s nose all along.

Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books)
Nominated by: Katie Fitzgerald
Reviewed by: Mary Ann Scheuer | Katie Fitzgerald

Blurb by Colby Sharp, sharpread and Nerdy Book Club and Amanda Snow, A Patchwork of Books

The charming and precocious Penny has learned a fun song in school. She can’t wait to share the song with her family. Unfortunately for Penny, listening to her song isn’t at the top of her mom and dad’s list of things to do. Penny patiently waits as her mom and dad take care of the sleeping babies. Then she has to wait until after dinner. Waiting is hard! Finally her moment comes and she can finally share her wonderful song with everyone. Her moment in the spotlight is just as she imagined and her family loves the song so much that they join in the singing!

Henkes’ has created a simple, yet meaningful story about patience and waiting one’s turn and when mixed with his signature illustrations, a truly lovely book is what readers are given.

kate di camillo easy readerBink and Gollie, Two for One by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)
Nominated by: Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
Reviewed by: Jeff Barger | Katie Fitzgerald

blurb by Katherine Sokolowski, Read, Write, Reflect

With the first Bink and Gollie book, Kate DiCamillo introduced us to two memorable characters. Fast and loyal friends, readers quickly asked for more. The girls are back in the sequel, Bink & Gollie: Two for One. In this installment, the two friends are headed to the state fair. We follow the girls as they have some fun at games such as Whack a Duck, share their talents at a talent show, and learn their future at fortuneteller Madame Prunely’s booth. The entire book is full of laughter and great attention to details, such as the buttons the girls wear after certain events.

Children will be drawn to the friendship, certainly, but also the loyalty of these two girls who seem to be opposites, but are the perfect compliment to each other.

To see all of the finalists and blurbs, head over to www.cybils.com!

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